Wilson is professor emeritus at Harvard University and biologist, is a two-time Pulitzer-winning ant expert who helped develop theories of island biogeography, chemical ecology, and sociobiology. A leader in the modern environmental movement, Wilson has devoted his life to understanding how all forms of life are connected.
Wright is famous for creating The Sims, the best selling video game in history and Spore, a recent game incorporating many science themes. One of Wright’s first games, SimAnt, is based partially on the work of Wilson.
During the conversation, the first question Wright asked was if Wilson saw a role for games in the educational process.
I’ll go to an even more radical position,” Wilson said. I think games are the future in education. We’re going through a rapid transition now. We’re about to leave print and textbooks behind.
Wilson elaborated further:
. . . for the most part, we are teaching children the wrong way. When children went out in Paleolithic times, they went with adults and they learned everything they needed to learn by participating in the process. That’s the way the human mind is programmed to learn.
Wilson also suggested that virtual reality “can be a steppingstone to the real world.”
This is nothing new. More experts are saying the same thing about the power of games and simulations as learning engines.
But what I enjoyed was the ability of both men to have a conversation that integrated science into a variety of other fields. I don’t think we do this enough in our classrooms. Too often, our conversations and work is focused on a narrow range – names, dates, places, people – without giving kids a chance to explore the relationships between our content and literature, for example.
Listening to the conversation was a good reminder about how important it is for kids to see history as a story connected to a much bigger world.
Image sources – en.wikipedia.org/wiki/E._O._Wilson, www.flickr.com/photos/sketch22/420745216